How Much Can a Person on Disability Earn Per Year?

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Social Security disability benefits pay eligible workers a monthly check if they are disabled and technically no longer able to work. However, many workers find that over time they are able to find some work that will pay them, though it may not be in their job field. However, there is a concern that if they earn too much, they will lose their disability benefits.

Disability Benefits

  • Your disability benefits are based on how much other income you earn. As your income increases, your monthly benefit amount is generally reduced. Your income is considered on a monthly basis so that your disability benefit can change each month and even be eliminated if your income that month is too high. Once your income is reduced to an amount within a range where you are once again eligible for benefits.

Average Lifetime Earnings

  • The amount you receive in Social Security disability depends on your average lifetime earnings. You will see your average lifetime earnings listed on your annual statement that you receive from Social Security. The statement also lists how much you will receive should you become disabled. This amount will grow as your earnings increase.

Reduced Benefits

  • If your extra income is from a job, then the first $85 each month of earned income is not counted against you. After that, your monthly disability benefit will be reduced $1 for every $2 of earned income above the $85. For example, if you earn $900 a month, you subtract $85 to get $815. You then divide this amount in half to get $407.50. This is the amount that your disability benefit will be reduced that month. If you are generally earning more than $700 a month or $8,400 a year, you will be earning too much to be eligible for benefits.

Plan to Achieve Self Support

  • If you want to work your way off of disability income by obtaining a job, you can apply for a "plan to achieve self support." If you are eligible, you will be able to work and earn income that does not count against you when your benefit amount is calculated. Additional work incentives can also include help with education, training and continued Medicaid coverage while you work.

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